This is the earliest in a season that the group has made a prediction this high. The only other time CSU researchers predicted 20 or maybe more storms was in their August update of the record-breaking 2005 season.
The previous record for the earliest E-named storm was 2005. While this year is on a record-breaking pace and comparisons can simply be made to the 2005 season, far more goes into a season than the quantity of storms.
A quick comparison of the first five named storms for this season so far implies that 2005 had three hurricanes including a category 4 and 5. And every one of the first five storms in the 2005 season made landfall in the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, the first five storms of the 2020 season have all been short-lived tropical storms and only two have made landfall.
Ingredients are ripe for an active season
The team at Colorado State continues to point to many key facets that favor above-average activity across the Atlantic.
For starters, sea surface temperatures across a lot of the hurricane-breeding grounds in the Atlantic are well-above average and also have been for several months. Storms feed off warm ocean waters and may grow stronger under those conditions. Warm ocean temperatures are expected to keep in place stepping into the peak months of hurricane season — August to October.
“Another reason for active CSU hurricane season forecast is odds of El Niño this summer/fall are extremely low,” in accordance with Colorado State researcher Phil Klotzbach. When El Niño is present, it reduces Atlantic hurricane activity due to increased vertical wind shear — changes in wind speed and direction with height that prevent hurricanes from building.
In addition to these favorable seasonal conditions, the researchers also are expectant of strong tropical waves to maneuver off Africa’s coast. These tropical waves will be able to exploit the tepid to warm water, which is why the group can be expecting nine hurricanes – four that will be major hurricanes (category 3-5).
A storm can develop off the East coast
This low pressure system is bringing widespread rain from the Gulf Coast to the Carolinas. Still, the system does not currently pose a threat for developing into a tropical storm since it is over land.
However, the National Hurricane Center projects the storm to gradually move offshore from the Carolinas by Thursday. As the system does, it’ll hit the Gulf Stream’s warm waters and could quickly develop into a tropical storm.
If that happens, it’ll be named Fay and it will also set yet another record. The earliest sixth named storm was also in 2005 but did not occur until July 21st.
Regardless of whether this method becomes a tropical storm, it will bring heavy rain to the Carolinas over the next several days. Widespread totals of 3 to 6 inches with isolated higher amounts will undoubtedly be possible along the Carolina coast.
After moving offshore, the system is predicted to move parallel to the coast of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. It brings moderate rain and increased surf and rip currents toward the end of the week and in to the week-end.
The full extent of the impacts won’t be known until the system moves offshore.